If you could draw up the ideal use for Devin Hester, circa 2010, it would go something like this:
Offense: Four catches for 38 yards, including a quick slant turned into a 19-yard touchdown
Punt returns: Two for 47 yards, including a 42-yarder
Kickoff returns: Two, covering 68 and 32 yards
Maybe one day ...
Oh, you're right.
Hester, in fact, put together that exact game in the Chicago Bears' 27-13 victory last Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings, a day that coincided with the team's decision to resurrect him as a kickoff returner. By maximizing his special-teams touches and finding a reasonable number of offensive plays for him, the Bears finally found a blueprint for using his skills moving forward.
If anything, Bears coaches were slow to recognize Hester's resurgent skills. After going two years without a touchdown return, Hester had two in the first six games of this season. He also has an NFL-high five punt returns of 20 or more yards after managing just three in 16 games last season.
It's all good now, however. Even if Hester doesn't return another kick for a score this season, he has at least ensured the king's treatment from opponents. Squib kicks and short punts out of bounds, both tools for limiting Hester's impact, still result in better field position for the Bears.